The Top 10 Reasons Book Proposals are Rejected (and How to Fix Them)


According to literary agents, the top reasons nonfiction book ideas are rejected are:

1. The proposal does not contain a strong argument for why the topic is relevant, timely and necessary. How to fix the problem: Cite forecasts, statistics, and recent media attention surrounding the subject.

2. There is nothing to differentiate this book from similar books on the topic. How to fix the problem: Present a well-developed slant on the topic and clearly show how your book is different and why it is better than similar titles.

3. The author’s platform is not developed enough to indicate viable sales. How to fix the problem: Establish and grow your platform with increased media exposure, ongoing publicity, and an extensive network of connections.

4. The writing in the sample chapters is weak or not compelling or the author’s writing style is overly academic. How to fix the problem: Use active voice and include stories in your writing to engage the reader, enroll in writing workshops to become a better writer, or hire an editor or ghostwriter to polish the chapters.

5. The author did not identify a specific, target market. How to fix the problem: Carefully define your readers.

6. The market is too small. How to fix the problem: Include statistics and specialty marketing strategy suggestions.

7. The author lacks credentials. How to fix the problem: If you are not an expert on the topic, consider working with a co-author or obtaining the required credentials.

8. The book will cost too much to produce. How to fix the problem: Reduce the number of suggested images and lower the estimated page count.

9. The author presented an article, not a book. How to fix the problem: Widen your topic so it will qualify as a full manuscript and expand your chapter summary.

10. The author outlined an unrealistic marketing plan. How to fix the problem: Create a practical promotional plan with strong, specific strategies.


Laura Cross is a writer/author, producer and founder of Rebel Seed Studio - an independent film production company, book publisher, and podcast network. Laura has worked as an author-strategist and professional ghostwriter of narrative nonfiction and how-to books. She is the author of the books EXPERT AUTHOR: Turn Your Expertise into a Profitable Business, Self-Help or How-To Book and BESTSELLER BOOK PROPOSAL: Develop a Winning Pitch, Acquire a Top Literary Agent and Land a Publishing Deal... Before You Write Your Nonfiction Book.

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